End Grain Cutting Board

An end grain cutting board is stronger than a traditional cutting board because it is made from butcher block, that is, from the end grain of a board.

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It is also harder to make because instead of simply ripping strips and gluing them together the board is made of small blocks of end grain. However, the extra effort is worth it.

The result is a tough, heavy board worthy of a gourmet chef.

walnut butcher block

Start the Process

To make an end grain cutting board start by cutting a bunch of blocks to size. I rip several long boards so I can easily cut off the ends, which I do on my table saw using a cross cut sled or miter gauge and sacrificial board.

making a cutting board
cutting board blocks

Once the blocks are cut comes the fun part: arranging the blocks to show off the grain.

You can see in the photos how much of a difference you can make in the design of your board by moving the blocks around.

cherry end grain

Layout is important

design cutting boardrandom block layout
making a cutting boardcareful layout

glue up the blocks

Once I have the design I like it is time to start the glue-up. I do this in several steps. First, I glue a string of blocks together.

I try to keep everything as even as possible when gluing, especially the dimension that will become the thickness of the board. It is hard to flatten end grain, so the closer it is while in process the better.

using joiner

Once my strips are all square I run them through the table saw to get all of them the same thickness. Don't try to do this unless the faces on the table and against the fence are square.

first glue-up cutting board

When the glue is dry I joint an edge and a face to make it square. (Notice the tear out on the end of the strip. If you have enough extra stock you can ignore it. If not, glue a sacrificial piece to the end of your strip.)

ripping on table saw

Then I repeat the process, gluing and cleaning up for the next glue-up until the board is the size I want.

I do this in several steps because I have found it is easier to have several small, clean glue-ups than to try and glue a lot at one time and have things slip all over when I clamp it.

After each glue-up I again use the joiner to square up two edges. After the final glue-up I cut off the excess material on the bandsaw before joining, then I cut the whole board square on the table saw. 

Sometimes I round over the edges or make a profile, and then all it needs is a final sanding.

finishing steps

I have a drum sander which gives me a head start for the final step which is sanding and sanding and sanding. Because it is end grain it is harder to sand than face grain, but stick with it. It is worth it in the long run.

 I finish it by soaking it in mineral oil and the result is a board that will get a good workout in any kitchen. I finish my boards with mineral oil. It is none toxic and easy to apply (in the winter I rub it in with my hands and it feels great on my dry skin).

I give it several coats and let it dry, then the board is ready to go.

final product: end grain cutting board

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